Politics Spills Over to Video Games: Using One's Own Tablet to Fight the Lukashenko Regime

LONDON, Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- "You don't scare me! You're gonna need more bears," says Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko in his best menacing tone, and the game moves up to the next level. Now you have to dislodge the helmet off the Belarusian leader's head by throwing teddy bears off a crop-dusting plane.

A Belarusian NPO is using a video game (available in Android and iOS versions) to raise awareness of the dire human rights situation in the country: "The EU has declared the recent parliamentary elections in Belarus as unfair – only Lukashenko's supporters won the seats in the Parliament. Prisons are swelling with political prisoners, and citizens are deprived of basic democratic institutions like free media, elections or economic freedom." It is truly amazing that both the EU and the US continue to sponsor Lukashenko's regime even as they harshly criticize it. Belarusian exports of petroleum, potash and other commodities help Lukashenko finance the perpetuation of his regime. "We hope that the video game will raise awareness in the US and the EU that their nations are unwittingly financing the Belarusian dictatorship," says Ilya Lushnikov, a spokesman for 'Belarusians in Exile', a non-profit group set up by Belarusians forced out of their country.

In the game, the player is expected to hit Alexander Lukashenko with teddy bears falling out of a plane. The task becomes more difficult with each subsequent level of the game. The game reminds users of the famous 2012 "teddy airdrop" when hundreds of teddy bears with democratic slogans attached to them were airdropped in Belarus. The eccentric Belarusian leader dismissed the majority of the nation's military top brass and removed ambassadors from Sweden, the country of origin of the plane carrying teddy bears, making this a huge international scandal.

"Anyone can now defeat Lukashenko's regime on their own tablet," says Lushnikov: "But the most important thing here is to raise international awareness of the Belarusian problem and call for support from people everywhere. We are calling on EU and US legislatures to expand sanctions against the Lukashenko regime, to deny it some of the cash inflows, forcing it to follow the law. We have contacted the European Council, the US Senate, and are working together with lawmakers and other Belarusian NGOs to toughen the sanctions and make them more effective."

The 'Play for Democracy' game is available free in Android and Appstore, as well online at Belarusians in Exile website: http://www.belorussians.org/play-for-democracy.

Belarusians in Exile
Ilya Lushnikov
+1 (646) 583-2525
ilya.lushnikov@belorussians.org

SOURCE Belarusians in Exile



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